There are many horse races in Japan, and each has shown the impressive athleticism and speed of horses from all over the country. These races can be witnessed across the several racecourses spread throughout the country. This is one of the reasons why it can’t be denied that Japan is indeed a horse race-loving nation.
With the country's immense love for the sport, it has two governing bodies for horse racing namely, the Japan Racing Association (JRA) and the National Association of Racing (NAR). As the former is responsible for the major races, the latter was made to handle local horse races. This makes it possible for Japan to hold more or less 21,000 races each year.
With many races to choose from, many impressive horses have graced the racecourses across the country. Guided by the best trainers and jockeys, some of the horses that were seen on the racetracks also happen to have an impressive horse racing pedigree.
One of the racehorses who have been making quite a name for itself is a 6-year-old Thoroughbred named Danon Smash. If you haven’t ever heard about him before, then here are some interesting facts about this impressive stallion.
Who is Danon Smash?
Danon Smash, foaled in 2015, is a Japanese Thoroughbred who is best known for his sprint race performances. In 2017, he became an impressive juvenile racer. In the following years, he continued to be a successful horse race. It was as early as 2019 that he emerged as a top-class racehorse. Today, he continues to be a stunning racehorse at the age of six.
This stallion is a bay horse with a white star. When he started his racing career at the age of 2, he carried the red and white colours of Danox Co. Ltd., the software enterprise of his owner, Masahiro Noda. To strengthen his career, he was thoroughly trained by Takayuki Yasuda who also acted as his jockey in one race. He was also bred in K I Farm.
Danon Smash’s sire is Lord Kanaloa and his dam is Spinning Wildcat. This popular horse is from the first crop of foals sired by Lord Kanaloa, who was the 2013 Japanese Horse of the Year awardee for being an outstanding sprinter-miler. Other progenies of his dam include Japanese Triple Crown winner Almond Eye, Saturnalia, and Tagaloa.
Spinning Wildcat, his dam, is a Kentucky-bred mare who also won a minor race in the United States. She also happens to be the half-sister of Breeder’s Cup Mile winner War Chant. She became related to this horse as she is the daughter of popular racemare Hollywood Wildcat who won several prestigious matches.
Aside from having an impressive dam and sire, Danon Smash’s damsire is King Kamehameha who also happens to be one of the most popular multi-awarded horses in Japan. Also, Hard Spun, his damsire, shares a history of racing by having finished second in the 2007 Kentucky Derby.
By knowing his pedigree, people will know that racing is really in Danon Smash’s blood.
His racing career
As earlier stated, Danon Smash has already won a lot of races in his career. As of writing, he holds a stunning record of 23: 11-4-1. He has also earned a total of ¥584,353,000 and HK$12,540,000 in his career. By putting it together, it can be easily said that he already won about $7 million.
Here is a closer look at all the races that he had joined.
As a two-year-old (2017)
- Danon Smash started his racing career when he was two. He finished second in his first-ever race which was for unraced juveniles. This was played over 1400 metres at Niigata Racecourse on September 2.
- Three weeks later, he had his first-ever win after having won a maiden race held at the same distance at the Hanshin racecourse.
- In October, he followed up at Kyoto Racecourse by competing at the Momiji Stakes.
- By December, he was moved sharply up in class for the Grade 1 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes. This race was held over a distance of 1600 metres at the Hanshin Racecourse. There, he finished fifth. Even though he did not win, it was still amazing as he had a bad start in that race.
As a three-year-old (2018)
- On March 17, he had his first run as a three-year-old. He started as a crowd-favourite at the grade 3 Falcon Stakes at the Chukyo Racecourse which was held over a distance of 1400 metres. There, he finished seventh after racing towards the rear of the field for most of the race.
- By April, he joined the Arlington Cup which was played over 1600 metres at Hanshin Racecourse. There, he was closer to the lead after ranking fifth behind Tower of London. He finished two and a half lengths behind the winner.
- In May, he joined the Grade 1 NHK Mile Cup at the Tokyo Racecourse. There, he raced in second place for the entirety of the race. Still, he finished the race as the seventh placer.
- In July, he started with the Hakodate Nikkan Sport Hai at the Hakodate Racecourse. This was after he was dropped back to sprint distances.
- The following month, he was matched with older horses for the first time. This was held in the Grade 3 Keeneland Cup held at the Sapporo racecourse. There, he finished in second place where he was next to five-year-old Nac Venus.
- His last race as a three-year-old was in the Grade 3 Keihan Hai that was played over 1200 metres at the Kyoto Racecourse. His jockey for that race was Yuichi Kitamura. During the race, he settled behind the leaders. After a while, Danon Smash took the lead in the straight and won by one and quarter lengths from a seven-year-old gelding.
As a four-year-old (2019)
- His first race as a four-year-old was the Grade 3 Silk Road Stakes. This was held over 1200 metres at the Chukyo Racecourse on January 27. In that race, Kitamura worked as his jockey again. Together, they raced in fifth and still managed to win strongly ahead of everyone else. They ended the race by one and a quarter length from the next horse contender.
In an interview with Yasuda, the trainer, he said that he got worried when Danon Smash turned into a stretch. He also said that he honestly thought that they would lose the race. There, he also expressed his high hopes that the horse will continue to improve.
- By March, he joined the Grade 1 class for the Takamatsunomiya Kinen at the Chukyo Racecourse. There, he started as a favourite but he finished fourth behind other contenders -- Mr Melody, Seiun Kosei, and Shonan Anthem.
Danon Smash was absent from the racing scene for five months. When he came back, Yuga Kadada took over as his jockey for the next two races.
- The impressive stallion came back for a second attempt at the Keeneland Cup on August 25. After settling in sixth place, he took the lead in the straight and won by a length from his competitor, Tower of London.
- Five weeks later, he started as a favourite for the Group 1 Sprinters Stakes at the Nakayama Racecourse. There, he was unable to surpass the leaders, thus making him finish a close third behind Tower of London and Mozu Superflare.
- His last 2019 race didn’t take place in Japan. This was because he was sent to Hong Kong’s Sha Tin Racecourse. There, he joined the Hong Kong Sprint on December 9. There, he finished the race in the eighth spot out of twelve horse runners.
As a five-year-old (2020)
- His first appearance as a five-year-old was in the Grade 3 Ocean Stakes at the Nakayama Racecourse on March 7. He had a poor start by being in fourth place. Then, he took the lead in the straight and won by one and a half lengths from the next horse. Here, he had Kawada as his jockey again.
- His next race took place on April 29. This was his second attempt to win the Takamatsunomiya Kinen. Here, he started as a third favourite but never fired on the yielding ground. At the end of the race, he finished tenth behind Kurino Gaudi.
This race became the talk of the town as the winner was subsequently disqualified for causing interference in the race. Therefore, the victory was given to the second placer, Mozu Superflare.
- By May, Danon Smash joined the Grade 2 Keio Hai Spring Cup over 1400 metres at the Tokyo Racecourse. His jockey for this race was Australian jockey Damian Lane. He started as a second favourite next to Tower of London. By changing tactics, he took the lead and won by one and a quarter lengths from Stelvio.
- His next 2020 race was the Yasuda Kinen which was held over 1600 metres on June 7. He took the lead during the race but had tired out in the last 200 metres. As a result, he finished eighth behind Gran Alegria.
- Danon Smash took a three-month summer break. He then returned to the track in the Grade 2 Centaur Stakes at Chukyo Racecourse on September 13. Here, his jockey was Kosei Miura. He settled in fourth place before gaining an advantage in the closing stages. In the end, he took the lead and won by a length and a neck from Meisho Glocke and Mr Melody.
- The following month, he ran for the second time in the Sprinters Stakes. There, he stayed well in the straight and finished second. He was beaten two lengths by the winner Gran Alegria.
- His last 2020 race was at the Hong Kong Sprint once again. Here, his jockey was Ryan Moore. After racing in mid-division, Danon Smash made rapid progress on the outside and took the lead in the last 200 metres.
Yasuda said in an interview that he was unable to watch the game live due to COVID-19 restrictions. Still, he said that he received a lot of congratulatory messages and calls about Danon Smash’s victory.
As a six-year-old (2021)
- Even horses have to go on quarantine. After his Hong Kong Sprint victory, Danon Smash was placed in quarantine. He only went back to the tracks on March 28 to be a part of the Takamatsunomiya Kinen without having any prep races at all. There, he was ridden by Kawada and they started as a second choice in the betting.
He was positioned on the outside in tenth place as Mozu Superflare set the pace. He then joined the leading horses in the last 100 metres from the finish line. Surprisingly, he prevailed by a neck from Resistencia and had his first-ever Grade 1 title in Japan.
- The following month, Danon Smash made his third trip to Hong Kong to join the Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize. There, he barely had the chance to win. True enough, he came home sixth behind a four-year-old named Wellington.
Recap: Major wins
Again, here is a closer look at the major wins that were achieved by Danon Sash.
- Keihan Hai (2018)
- Silk Road Stakes (2019)
- Keeneland Cup (2019)
- Ocean Stakes (2020)
- Keio Hai Spring Cup (2020)
- Centaur Stakes (2020)
- Hong Kong Sprint (2020)
- Takamatsunomiya Kinen (2021)
By looking at his career, it can be said that this six-year-old horse has already achieved a lot. Aside from being a winning horse in Japan, his potential was also appreciated internationally as he kept being invited to Hong Kong to be a part of their prestigious races.
Whether or not it may have been influenced by his impressive horse racing pedigree or not, what remains to be certain is that he is making a name for himself. Therefore, horse racing fans can only tune in to the latest updates and watch other upcoming races to see how far Danon Smash’s career will go.